Updated: Mar 4, 2019
The boy was erased so that the confident, homosexual man could be born.
"Boy Erased" managed to grace the screens of FEST in Belgrade in 2019 and it is a movie based on a memoir of the same name written by Garrad Conley. It is about a young teenager called Jared (Lucas Hedges), wonder where they got that name???, who grew up in a Christian household where his father (Russell Crowe) is a Priest, but Jared is a homosexual. The story is hectic since his parents decided to send him to a camp that is said to "fix him" and other homosexuals. This of course does not happen and there was even a scene where people tried to beat the homosexuality out of one of the characters, Cameron (Britton Sear) with a Bible (you don't use a Bible to hit people, then again this Christian camp even spelt God's Name wrong). Throughout the course of the film we are with Jared as he sees the errors of the camp and knows that his father, although misguided, thought he was doing the right thing.
Parents make mistakes as Jared's did but there was never a lack of love, for their son and for God. His mother (Nicole Kidman) even said that she loves her son, loves God and knows that God loves her. Or when his father was talking to Jared on the phone in a calming voice to try and comfort him while he was at that camp. The parents see their mistakes and they tired (or will try in case of the father) to correct it. By the way, the performances from the family were great and believable and I could really feel the fears and concerns that each member had. And their accents were on point (well I can't do accents so all accents are always good to me). The growth of the mother was more verbal while the growth of the father was more visual since I felt as if he was scared and sad of losing his son and that he did not know what to do. Yes, there was a scene where the dad said 'you can't live under this roof blah, blah...' but notice who else (besides the mom) was in that scene. Just saying. The father did what he was told to do since he thought it was right while the mother felt it was wrong at the beginning but did nothing. They grew and their love for their son didn't vanish. The family looked realistic where not everything is perfect but moms and sons can still joke around and have the same conversations (the hand out the car bit) and fathers worry about not helping their kid and feeling lost. Crowe did a great job as did Kidman but Hedges was on top form and very likeable.
The film is emotional not only for what the camp tried to put the kids through but for the parents as well, and it lets the viewer (me) question certain aspects of how people can use religion to create fear and manipulate. Another aspect that I found interesting was that the kids in the camp knew it would not work and they told Jared this (in a way, just to play the game and do what they want you to do), one of the sayings were 'fake it til you make it' as told by one of the counsellors (Flea... yep that one). Another aspect that even the counsellors thought that everyone had the same experiences that "made them" such as having sexual relations with a member of the same sex instead of just holding hands while in bed (like Jared and Xavier ( Theodore Pellerin)) or that they have to be angry at their fathers (which Jared never was). It was almost as if Victor Sykes (Joel Edgerton, who did a awesome job of directing) was 1. wanted to get off on the "details" of their sexual experiences and 2. getting out his own frustration that he had for his father. Yes, there are families, unfortunately, that make life unbearable for those who come out but Jared's was not one of those.
The film was shot well with the use of blurry background to make the foreground, and characters hop out. And the score was well used especial in the quiet scene like when Jared comes out to his parents. The lack of music helped this scene since we could focus on what was happening, their reactions, his "guilt" and the music was not telling us what to feel. The parts without a score were great.
It is a must see and everyone did a great job with it. They honoured the source material (since the author seemed to be there on set, maybe) but I did not really buy that Jared would be a well off writer at the age of 22. Maybe he got lucky? Anyway the film is hectic with emotions and questioning what you think but it is heartwarming and hope giving at the end, which was well done.